Coming off of a shoulder injury in 2019, Alex Anzalone’s future with the Saints was in question before 2020 even started. With A.J. Klein being signed by the Panthers, it made sense to keep Anzalone on due to his strong skills in coverage. However, the former third-round pick out of Florida may not have done enough to make himself a priority in the 2021 offseason.
That’s not to say he was bad last year. In a bounce-back year from the aforementioned shoulder injury, Anzalone played all 16 games and logged 41 total tackles. He didn’t play himself off the team, by any means, but he didn’t play himself back onto it. His reliance of coverage snaps to stay on the field doesn’t jive with the Saints’ defensive philosophy of stopping the run. But he did play well in coverage on relatively few targets.
Ultimately, whether or not the Saints keep Anzalone would depend on the market for him and what they value moving forward on defense. If they want a rotational linebacker who can cover tight ends and linebackers, he’s a good player to have it. However, if they want someone who can blitz and let Demario Davis drop into coverage more often — or even complement him on Double A Gap blitzes — they may need to look elsewhere.
One thing that can’t be taken from Anzalone is that he stayed healthy. For the Saints, that’s been invaluable the past four years. The question now becomes, do they retain him for relatively cheap in a cash-strapped year? Or do they try to take a swing and let Anzalone go to another team that wants help in covering the middle level? That’s for the front office to decide.
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